DS Biopharma spins out biotech to focus on NASH, fibrotic candidates

The privately owned Dublin, Ireland-based DS Biopharma (DS) has spun out a company from its ranks in order for it to focus specifically on scarring diseases, while the parent firm will move on with dermatology candidates.  

The biotech, which will be known as Afimmune, will focus on a series of fibrotic conditions such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (fatty liver disease, or NASH) and respiratory disorders such as COPD and the lung-scarring condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

Both COPD and IPF already have a number of marketed treatments on the market from companies such as GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), Roche ($RHHBY) and Boehringer, but NASH is yet to see an approved med, with companies including Intercept ($ICPT) and Genfit seeking to be the first to market--a market that could be worth up to $40 billion at peak given the growing number of those with fatty livers causes by obesity.

Afimmune will take the baton of DS102, formerly DS’s antifibrotic compound, with a focus on study NASH as well as COPD and IPF.

Midstage studies are set to begin on the drug later this year after passing initial safety studies in NASH, with a Phase IIa for COPD also slated “following positive preclinical data,” according to a statement from the biotech.

Afimmune also has a number of other compounds in preclinical development, although this are yet to be made public.

Meanwhile, DS Biopharma will focus on the development of DS107--an anti-inflammatory compound for atopic dermatitis and pruritus in Phase II, as well as DS109 for other skin conditions such as acne, which should enter the clinic this year.

Dr. John Climax, executive chairman of DS Biopharma, said: “By spinning out DS102 into a new company, DS Biopharma can direct its full attention to developing products for inflammatory skin conditions whereas Afimmune will focus on fibrotic conditions and pulmonary disorders.”

Financial details of the spinoff--such as whether it will be self-funded or reliant on DS, as well as the management team of the new biotech-have not been disclosed. 

- check out the release

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